Change is constant and it is what history is according to Herodotus. For Greeks, it was change and for Romans it was continuity. R. G. Collingwood saw this scientificity and humanism in Greek thought were greatest contributions of Greeks to the human civilisation while substantialism and metaphysical permanency were the weaknesses of the Roman thought. The same strands of thought processes could be seen in India too. Rational, humanist and secular groups across castes and communities reflects the we comfortably allocate the earlier to the progressive intelligentsia drawn from genuine reformers from the opper caste and class and lower caste reforms who thought such a reform is absolutely essential for recognizing the lower caste human as human. It is these who employed reason, logic and humanism to create new India which has been in the making from 19th century. The latter type of thought process is to be allotted to the half-hearted reformers, romanticists, cultural jingoists who believed that the complete reform of the old would result in losing the cultural and religious identity that would not offer the opportunity to re-build the nation on Hindu homogenous identity.
Therefore the process of visualizing new India, as cultural category was began India in 19th century and such a visualisaton is not limited to any one single religious, political, caste and cultural dispensation. The process of building the new India was simultaneously undertaken by secular centrists, the left, Subalterns and right-wing radicals. All these are visualizing according to the subjective priorities. Acceptance of these visualisations, then and now, is to do with the general acceptability as unproblematic visualizations. After independence, Nehruvian, Gandhian and Ambedkar visualisations have had some general acceptability. Some concerns of the latter two, existing separately in colonial times, could be argued that, got accommodated into the Nehruvian visualisaton. Perhaps, that was the reason why, Nehruvian visualisaton passed through. If not the core ideology, some of the corners of All India Hindu Mahasabha (AIHM) and Ratriya Sawyamsevak Sangh (RSS) are also addressed in Nehruvian visualisation of new India. In the discovery of India, Nehru was discovering already existing ‘India’ to build new India. The purpose of this discovery was to borrow whatever could be borrowed from the composite culture of the past to build the new present and future that seemed ‘acceptable’ or ‘unproblematic’ to many if not perfect and unquestionable in anyway. Ambedkar’s annihilation of caste is addressed on the form of declaring untouchability, AIHM-RSS’s concern has addressed by keeping the caste system, part of Hinduism, as it is unlike Mustapha Khemal Pasha of Turkey and Gandhi’s concern of keep village economy was kept as it is despite Ambedkar’s opposition. With such a visualisaton of Nehru, it is only dalits and women who should be having problems and opposing it for the obvious continuity of all that is oppressive, discriminative and exclusive characters. But ironically, more than these, it is the oppressive forces, instead of feeling guilty of providing continuity to the orthodoxy of the Hindusm, if not the reformed Hindusim, and the poisonous communal rhetoric, if not protecting the interests of caste Hindus which should have had natural death, are visualizing new India by re-essentialising the rejected cultural and social norms and forms.
From 1947 to 1990s, the AIHM-RSS visualisaton of India that was purely communal was under control as the post-colonial India new India was turned out to be secular country if not rational. The uncongenial political situation under the congress and other coalition governments worked as a natural controlling mechanism from cultivating and gathering support to such a visualisaton publicly. But under the article 25 of the constitution, AIHM-RSS has not only build the wider national and global network with the help of powerful national Hindu capitalist and NRI Hindu capitalists but also simultaneously matured a political wing: the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) to realise its dreams. On a grand scale, Rama Janmabhoomi Ratha Yatra by Lal Krishna Advani brought BJP governments in north-western states. This has paved the way for carrying out social experiments on developing homogenous (Hindu) national culture and sees the response of the civil society towards such experiments. Given communal majority and political power, both these are being in perfect reciprocal relationship; it became easy to unleash the most horrific genocide ever witnessed in Gujarat in 2002. Both these are well orchestrated communal programmes are part of the envisioning of their new India. While Advani’s Ratha Yatra pointed out the common enemy BJP-RSS Hindus by attacking the site (Babri Masjid), the Guajarat communal pogrom was to use the body of the enemy to add definitiveness to the idea of their new India. These two large programmes, at that point in time, indirectly but clearly were pointing out that to create new India, Muslim mukt is necessary. Even if it is impossible, cultural sites and bodies of the enemy could be efficiently used, at least, first to stimulate Hindu majority communal mass sentiments/emotions which would, in multiple ways, work to generate the required political capital latter. But such a huge project of creating new India i. e. Hindu Rastra would not last long if its finances dry out. Therefore, roping in the Hindu capitalists finance the project of Hindu Rastra was experimented and Gujarat and this Hindu nationalist capitalism are presented as secular in the Gujarat model of development. So the Hindu Rastra communal ideology is successfully camouflaged with fake development rhetoric that was cultivated to kick start the narrative and latter, in actuality, a sort of economic development began in which Tata-Birla combine is slowly replaced with Adhani-Ambani combine. The earlier capitalist combine has played a significant role in the Nehruvian new India. Perhaps, the earlier are not found to be suitable as financiers of the Hindusm Rastra programme or perhaps they are bit secular capitalists.
With national political aspirations of the BJP-RSS comes the Sab Ka Sath Sab Ka Vikas (development for everybody) as another camouflage as mantra of efficient and non-corrupt government. But signals are everywhere. Every educated person could see that under such a utopian rhetoric, the fascist logic of economic efficiency is infiltrating into the government. Signals of death of the government that is suitable to India where, at least, 60% of its population depends on the state for genuine historical reasons are everywhere. Yet, BJP is successful in continuing its rhetoric among the Hindu middle class Indians who are in conformity with Hindutva ideology and other middle class youth who are unemployed really fell for the development rhetoric. Government that is needed for people is systematically being killed. Planning is replaced with Niti Ayog with which the idea of social welfare is killed. The fascist economic principle work-earn-eat became prominent. Under this principle, people with no employment, no resources of their own, incapable of working to earn (children, disabled and old aged) are to be considered or declared worthless. Government spending on public health, agriculture, education and social welfare are to be rationalised initially and to be withdrawn eventually. Economic resources saved from reducing the spending on the so called worthless people are to be invested on the projects that would serve the long time purposes of fascism. Investment on Patel and Shivaji statues, promoting infrastructure facilities for Hindu cultural establishments and organizations and so on are the perfect examples.
Once it is successful in inventing old enemy (Muslims) to come to power, the next phase starts with inventing a new greater cultural enemy. To realise grand scheme like Hindu Rastra, Muslims as regular or old enemy becomes an overused category. Therefore, inventing a new enemy by extending the idea of enmity to more than one non-Hindu community as a violators, opponents, critiques and obstructers of Hindu culture becomes a necessity. For the obvious reasons, rationalists, secularists, dalits, Christians and activists running NGOs would also fall into the category of enemies. In this process, it redefines Hindu culture by re-visiting selective Hindu customs, practise and values which were dumped or dismissed as unsuitable or could not stand the scrutiny of rationalism to be part of heterogeneous composite culture of India. It also adds un-challengebility to such a culture by equating it with the culture of the nation. This has to be effected in a situation where the natural opposition to such a process in culturally-religiously plural democratic society has to be countered with power. Therefore, the fascism, first, would come to power then use the same congenial political situation to revisit this dismissed customs/tradition to add new cultural value and this would be presented as new even though it does not suited to the context and to the standards of the civilisation. The sole intention of such a camouflaging of the old as new is to allocate communal/cultural/political functions. But this process does not limit itself just one process, it also be followed by the building the politically hypocritical rhetoric on the unsuitability of the culture of the ‘other’ both from the point of such culture is unsuitable to the context and standards of civilisation. For instance, while the cow, as a holy animal of Hindus, becomes perfect tool to revisit the old to serve new cultural/religious/political purpose, the same could be a tool to define the greater enemy as beef eating is not limited to muslims alone. Similarly, while Ttriple Talaq, polygamy, burqa and certain cultural practices of all non-hinuds including hindu dalits who are in conformity with Hinduism are to be criticised and build rhetoric as an unsuitable culture of the nation, the existence of same or even worse practises in orthodox and reformed Hinduism are left out from the discourse of civilsational/contextual unsuitability. Instead, it would encourage its ‘intellectual’ agency to build supportive rhetoric to justify the suitability.
So, in the second phase, invention of new and greater enemies becomes essential to broaden the ideological base and to provide new energy to the foot soldiers of the religious fascism. In this phase all those who are opposing or criticising orthodoxy in Hinduism or working to challenge and remove its customs and traditions are all enemies. This is how, M.M. Kalburging, Goving Pansare, Narendra Dabolkar are declared as enemies to be eliminated. To punish or to eliminate such an enemy assassination found to be a best new method. Such as methods of elimination of supposedly anti-religious enemies were rare earlier. The independent India, perhaps, had not witnessed such a sort of crime and violence. It has to be new for RSS-BJP because without these methods it would be difficult eliminates enemies. Technology of the times such as a phone, pisotal, bike, Twitter, fake Facebook post and other digital tools, came in hand to fight for the reviving and revitalization of the old. Their new India would be religiously orthodox, culturally regressive, socially exclusive and politically authoritative. In all these, there is nothing new.
This is what New is for them. There are four tools which are quite useful in the reviving, promoting and propagating the old as new: rhetoric, technology, political power (government) and money. These four are, by logic, rational. Yet, these could, effectively, be used by fascists as Hilter did. We have IT cell soldiers of BJP-RSS who are more dangerous than German soldiers who were shooting Jews at wish. We have sadhus and sadhivis who have adopted the language of threat. We have leaders of Hindu organizations who are declaring bounty on their communal and political enemies. We have governments (centre/states) which with power vested in them are leaving no stone unturned in promoting Hindu communalism. We have capitalists who with no shame and guilt are benefiting from the reciprocal relationship with the fascist government. If situation demands, these capitalists even help the government to build gas chambers in India.
Under the strong secular India, the far-right had been kept visualizing and working within the limits of constitution. In a politically weak secular India, it conducted experiments and came to power. After coming to power, restricted by the inbuilt power of constitutional democracy, it camouflaged itself wih sab ka sat sab ka Vikas and did all that it could to lay the foundations for the revival of orthodox Hinduism as essential oxygen for india. And now with an eye another five year term at the centre it came up with a new slogan: sankalp se sidhi, (New India Movement from 2017 to 2022). This means that the new India would be built on the foundations that are laid during 2014 to 2017. Then, one could easily guess what the BJP-RSS new India is going to be
Dr. Y. Srinivasa Rao is Assistant Professor, Department of History, Bharathidasan University, Thiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu